Love editing? Congratulations: There's a whole world of freelance work from clients worldwide available to you! Here's how to charge them.
One thing that freelance editors struggle with is deciding how much to charge. Of course, we all want to balance being fair to our clients with making a living and so take this matter seriously.
For writing content from scratch, it is easier to say how much you would charge for say, a 1,000-word blog post. Or, when doing translation work, you would probably have a rate per word or character. However, editing is quite different.
Below are some factors we should keep in mind when making offers to clients.
The Type of Editing
The type of editing work has the most influence on the scope and how labor-intensive it is going to be. Below are the three main types of editing work you might encounter listed in order of difficulty. To decide on a fee, we must first figure out which kind of editing is required. In general, harder work will require more time and expertise. Thus, it is only fair that it should cost more.
This is the most straightforward type of editing. Our goal is to ensure the manuscript is free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Usually, it is the final step in the production process. This type of editing is not about changing or enhancing the content; it's just to catch cosmetic errors.
Automated tools such as Grammarly are making proofreading easier. However, while they can augment the capabilities of a competent editor, they do not actually understand the words they are parsing. Thus, they cannot replace humans. Nor can they turn a poor writer into a good one.
With this type of editing, our goal is to optimize the style, formatting, and accuracy. We want to rid the manuscript of inconsistencies and ensure it flows smoothly for the reader. Of course, this will include proofreading.
Light copy editing consists of checking the accuracy and taking care of grammatical issues.
Medium copy editing includes correcting flow and re-working some of the text.
Heavy copy editing includes re-structuring paragraphs and heavily correcting style, flow, and grammar.
This is the most involved type of editing work. On top of the work done in proofreading and copy editing, we may need to create new content to fill gaps or re-write sections of the manuscript. Furthermore, the logic behind our changes may not be apparent to the client, and so we may need to spend time explaining (and even debating!) them.
Calculating Our Fees
When just starting out, our goals may be just to learn to work with clients, build relationships, and earn glowing testimonials. When pitching via freelancing job sites such as Conyac, it definitely helps to have at a high average feedback rating and excellent reviews on our profile.
Similar to professionals such as lawyers, some editors prefer to charge hourly. If dealing directly with a client, they may use tools such as Harvest to calculate their bills and send invoices.
Some editors charge per word. However, if heavy content editing is required, and we add a substantial amount to the final word-count, the client may be unpleasantly surprised. Even if the additions were definitely needed, they might not see it that way, and we may have a dispute. At the very least, we may need to spend time explaining ourselves.
Charging per page is quite common, as it's more flexible than charging per word. A compromise might be to set a rate per 500 or 1,000 words and round down.
Once we're more experienced, we should have a clear idea of how much editing we can get done in an hour. However, to protect our clients from scope creep, it can be easier to agree on a bill for the whole project.
Focusing on Quality
Charging hourly tempts you to take longer than necessary. Charging per project incentivizes us to rush the job since spending more time on it won't earn us more. As editors, our reputations are everything, so even if we mistakenly undercharge and lose money on a job, our work must be flawless. We can't risk poor reviews or clients complaining about us online.
Supply & Demand
Demand for our services may fluctuate depending on the topic, genre, our expertise or qualification, and our track record. Researching online, we can find what editors with similar specialties are charging. Another factor is how badly we want the work. For example, if we are getting more work offers than we can handle, then it's clearly time to raise our rates.
In the end, how much we charge for our freelance editing services will depend on several factors. In the beginning, our pricing may reflect a keen desire to be competitive. However, once we establish yourself, then we may be able to command higher rates.
We must remember that high-quality editing can make a massive difference to the success of our clients' content. Whether it be a thesis, blog post, or press release, quality editing by an expert can take it to a whole new level and beyond.
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